A trip to the Red Planet
Hopping a rocket to Mars has been a popular cinematic trip in many films. Here are two videos from the ’50s that feature visits to the Red Planet.
Abbott and Costello Go to Mars
Okay, they don’t actually go to Mars, but that’s the theme in this 1953 installment of the Abbott & Costello franchise. Orville (Costello) stumbles onto a rocket-building facility and, along with handyman Lester (Abbott), accidentally gets launched into space. The boys’ first stop is New Orleans, where they are surrounded by Mardi Gras revelers whom they believe to be Martians. After getting hijacked by two escaped cons, Orville and Lester find themselves stranded on Venus, where the show is run by Queen Allura (Mari Blanchard) and her gorgeous all-female population. The Venusians include sex-symbol-to-be Anita Eckberg and a collection of Miss America candidates. Not a bad gig for a middle-age comedy duo. The bits are fun, campy, and a bit timeworn, as are most Abbott and Costello movies. Look for Martha Hyer (The Carpetbaggers) as an Earth-bound secretary.
It! The terror from beyond space
The current release Mission To Mars and Ridley Scott’s original Alien both owe story credit to this Cold-War sci-fi thriller. A rescue mission arrives on Mars to bring back Colonel Carruthers (Marshall Thompson), the lone survivor of an earlier mission. His tales of a mysterious monster killing his entire crew are ignored, and Carruthers is prepared for court-martial upon his return to Earth. When dead crew members start piling up shortly after takeoff it becomes apparent that not only is Carruthers telling the truth but also that the monster has hitched a ride. Like most ’50s creature features, It! is ripe for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, but director Edward Cahn and writer Jerome Bixby deserve recognition for spawning many rip-offs. The supporting cast includes familiar television and film actor Dabbs Greer (recently seen in the Oscar-nominated The Green Mile) and legendary Hollywood stuntman and western star Ray “Crash” Corrigan as the lizardlike monster.